Editor's note: This post is a submission to Fordham's 2018 Wonkathon. We asked assorted education policy experts whether our graduation requirements need to change, in light of diploma scandals in D.C., Maryland, and elsewhere. Other entries can be found here.
It is a time to fundamentally reconsider what we think we know about high school graduates. But we should also revisit what the lack of a diploma tells us about non-graduates. Ultimately, we ought to expand our collective responsibility for both groups, get them to learn more, and invest in their development after they leave high school—with or without a diploma.
Most commentary focuses on the behavior of adult leaders and politicians. To the extent we talk about students, we focus on the future of those who earn diplomas and are cavalier about the consequences for those who do not.
Diplomas have predictive value to employers and higher education institutions; motivational value to students; and, for better or worse, cultural value that affects how we judge young people’s worth.
For employers and higher education institutions, a diploma can certify preparation and suitability. We should differentiate our understanding of preparation while de-coupling these certifications from the diploma. If we...